First tip: Spend more than 24 hours in Lyon. I couldn’t due to other commitments, but I was delighted by the second city of France and can’t wait to go back. It’s the home of The Little Prince (by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry), the Lumière brothers - who invented the first motion film and countless world class chefs. It’s littered with independent shops full of french artisans and designers. Ice cream in every flavor you could think of, including ones you don’t want to think about. Bakeries, spice shops, butchers and chocolatiers are sprinkled all over the city and you can’t really go wrong. Aside from the extensive food scene Lyon has a sunny vibe, even on a cloudy day. Yellow, peach and tangerine walls line the streets casting a cheerful glow over passersby. In this guide I’ll give you a brief rundown of how we filled our day but make no mistake - this is one small corner of this French hub.
I bopped around Lyon with my bestie Jess for the day. We were staying with some friends on the outskirts of the city and did as much as we could in one day! It felt like everywhere we turned there was a cafe tucked in a centuries old building and shops hidden in crooked old alleys.
We took the famed funiculaire (pictured above) up to La Basilique Notre Dame de Fourvière. The basilica itself is stunning as are the views over the hilly city of Lyon. We made our way back to the center of the old city by walking rather than riding the funicular back down, walking makes for better sight-seeing!
Once you make your way down to the bottom of the hill you’ll start to see the streets peppered with more cafés, restaurants, bars and more importantly BAKERIES. Make sure to give the famous Praline a try - whether on a tart or brioche it’s quite tasty. We stopped at A La Marquise and were met with a bright, decadent, praline filled interior. The lovely little bakery serves tea as well though we didn’t have time to spend there. Also be sure to grab a cone at Terre Adélice. They have some wildly inventive flavors. I had cardamom and frangipane - a perfect walking treat.
In the interest of time we didn’t stop in many shops though we did stop at Le Comptoir Mathilde. Another beautiful interior, shelves filled to the brim with all kinds of cooking ingredients, chocolate and taste testers (I tried 6 different kinds of mustard). These shops are all over France and a load of fun to stop in, even if its just for a taste.
After a few sweet treats we made our way to the river and crossed over - getting ready to make our way to La Croix Rousse, a hilltop district full of beautiful views, independent shops, artists and designers. Even before we hit the metro we stumbled upon more gorgeous side streets and a stunning interior design shop.
Simone Sisters carries gorgeous homewares, the curation is lovely. Squealing about all the gold accents and 50s boho vibe. Much of the wooden furniture in the shop is weathered wood the interior designer owner sources from Corsica. Stuff of dreams!
Finally, we emerged out of the metro to the glorious hilltop of Croix-Rousse. Sufficient wandering up here. Tiny teetering alleys and city-wide views everywhere you look. Just stop in whatever shops you fancy - and ask some of the shop owners for the locals guide. There is a directory of shops owned by independent artists, designers and if you can manage to translate some of it - it’s a goldmine!
in an effort to encourage exploration and adventure, I’m not going to give away any shops except one. As a graphic designer who collects prints when I travel, it holds a special place in my heart. It’s a dreamy little print shop. All printing is done on real Heidlberg printing presses in house. The artist, designer and owner runs the shop front as well, Jane of all Trades amiright? Please go check out Diable! and delight in the flora, fauna, fairies and robots and support this delightful local business.
Like I said, that’s all I’m giving away! Please do yourself and anyone you’re traveling with a favor and have a good wander in this neighborhood. The shops are full of authentic french-made and french-designed products and if you’re anything like me, you’ll jump at the chance to support any one of these independent businesses. Please do comment here if you go and make a special discovery!! I’d love to hear your story. :)
Like with the Vieux Lyon, we walked back down to the city center rather than taking the metro putting us right in the Place Bellecour. A massive square with views up the hills of the Basilica and loads of people watching, it felt like the perfect place to end our day, especially with a last glimpse of sun draping over the mellow tones of Lyonnaise architecture.
Thanks for reading crew! I hope you enjoy Lyon if you go and please feel free to comment here with any questions! I’ll do my best to answer. For more French indulgence check out my guide to a rainy weekend in Paris!